It was reported by Janes that, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) will send its eight Boeing F/A-18D Hornet multirole fighters to the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF’s) Williamtown airbase where Boeing Australia has also maintained the RAAF’s F/A-18F Super Hornet fleet. Aside from the maintenance work, it is believed that upgrade works will be undertaken including improvements in the cockpit displays, installing a new tactical data link, and improvements on its existing hardware. The works would be undertaken in batches of 2 aircraft, and will start this year and complete the works on all 8 aircraft by 2024. The maintenance work will be conducted on two aircraft at a time at the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF’s) Williamtown airbase
The Royal Malaysian Air Force has no plans to acquire new jet fighters to replace existing ones until 2030. Aside from American Boeing F/A-18D Hornet, which have been in service for 20 years, the British BAE Hawks (25 years) and the Russian Sukhoi SU-30MKM Flankers (10 years) are also part of Malaysia’s ageing fleet. The Royal Malaysian Air Force has eight F/A-18Ds. The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) will continue to use the F/A-18D Hornet and Sukhoi Su-30 for the period under the 12th and 13th Malaysia Plan. Boeing F/A-18D Hornet will undergo depot-level maintenance work aimed at allowing the aircraft to operate until 2035.
The first four aircraft arrived at Butterworth on May 27, 1997, following which Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) 18 Skuadron was officially formed on July 1, 1997, to operate the aircraft, the remaining four of which arrived on August 28, 1997. Three Hornets together with five UK-made BAE Hawk 208 were deployed in a bombing airstrike on the “Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo” terrorists on 5 March 2013, just before the joint forces of the Royal Malaysian Army and Royal Malaysia Police commandos launched an all-out assault during Operation Daulat. The Hornets were tasked with close air support to the no-fly zone in Lahad Datu, Sabah.